Sponsored by the Southern & Northern California Chapters of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America

"...Of all...impassioned pursuits, there is none more abundant in joys, noble, healthy and pure, than book-hunting."
– Holbrook Jackson (The Anatomy of Bibliomania, 1950)

Most great collectors started when they were young, and most great collections started with a passion for a particular object or subject. When these objects are books and manuscripts, the collectors are called bibliophiles, or lovers of the book.

The purpose of The California Young Book Collector's Prize is to nurture the next generation of bibliophiles. The competition is open to collectors aged 35 and under who are living in California. All collections of books, manuscripts, and ephemera are welcome, no matter their monetary value or subject. The collections will be judged on their thoroughness, the approach to their subject, and the seriousness which with the collector has catalogued his or her material.

The winner of the competition will be awarded:

  • A gift certificate of $500 to spend at the 2020 California International Antiquarian Book Fair
  • An exhibition of the winner's collection to be presented in a showcase at the book fair
  • A stipend of $250 towards exhibition expenses (to help cover travel costs, showcase labels, and insurance)
  • A year's membership to the Book Club of California
  • A year's membership to the Bibliographical Society of America
  • A year's subscription to The Book Collector
  • A year's subscription to Fine Books & Collections magazine

The deadline for receipt of submissions is December 1st, 2019, and the winner will be notified by January 6th, 2020.

The exhibit will be at the 53rd California International Antiquarian Book Fair held in Pasadena, CA, from February 7-9, 2020; the winner will be responsible for insuring his or her collection and for setting-up their exhibition on February 6th and taking it down on the evening of February 9th. The showcase will be for exhibition only; no parts of the collection can be offered for sale during the fair. Because this year's book fair will be held in Pasadena, the jury will be comprised of the executive committee of the Southern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America.

To participate, please submit the following materials as a pdf file:

  • Your age and contact information, including mailing address, telephone number, and email.
  • A list of no more than twenty entries from the catalogue of your collection.
  • A statement of no more than 1000 words concerning your collection. This should include a summary of your collection; your reason for forming the collection; a description of one or two of your most prized items (supported by photographs); and a description of a few desiderata, those works that you lack, but hope to find one day to add to your collection. All items in the collection must be owned by you, the collector.

Past first prize winners are not eligible, however, all past applicants and second and third place winners may apply.

Young Book Collector Prize

Submissions must be received by December 1, 2019. Please submit materials as a PDF file to Jen Johnson, Chair of the Southern California Chapter of the ABAA, at

Spotlight on the 2019 Young Book Collector's Prize Winner
First place in the 2019 California Young Book Collector's Prize was awarded to Matthew Wills, of La Jolla, whose collection is on the theme of "Anti-Confucian Propaganda in Mao's China". In Matthew's words: "[As an] historian and bibliographer, I research the history of book publishing and propaganda in Chairman Mao's China. In particular, I study books that show the Communist state's hostility to China's Confucian traditions." For a time the state-controlled publishers printed "hundreds of propaganda books critiquing Confucian ideas," and it is these primary source materials which constitute the foundation of Matthew's collection, which has approximately 700 unique items, including editions in different languages, comic books, and even five volumes printed in Braille.